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Posted at 02:52 PM ET, 02/01/2012

Deferred students lobby for admission

The boom in the number of students applying to college through early decision or early action programs in recent years has resulted in more students asking questions like: What happens when you get deferred?

The answer to those questions varies from school to school, but here are seven basic tips for what to do next:

1) Remember that a referral is not a rejection — but it’s also not an acceptance. Many universities will only keep an application in the pool if the student has a shot of getting in during the regular admissions process — so congratulations on making it to the next round. With that said, you need to have a back-up plan and apply to other schools before their deadlines hit.

2) Update your application with any relevant information. A lot has probably happened since you sent in your early application in October or November, so make sure that you update that application with all relevant information. “Relevant” means your first semester grades and major accomplishments, like being named class president or receiving a national award. (Things that are most likely not relevant: being named “student of the week” in your Spanish class or joining the foreign film club.) You can also use this as an opportunity to submit an updated letter of reference, especially if your favorite teacher (or a teacher who has recently become your favorite) was unable to write a letter in time for the early deadlines.

3) Take full advantage of any opportunities that the admissions department offers. If your applications is not as full as it could be, change that. If the school offers to interview applicants, set up an appointment on-campus, over-the-phone or with an alum in your region. If the school has an optional essay, make sure to submit one. If you can submit up to three letters of recommendation and have only sent one, recruit two more.

4) Don’t stalk the admissions office. Don’t be annoying. And don’t submit extraneous information. Right now, most admissions staffers are trying to work their way through hundreds of applications. So unless you have a legitimate question, let them work in peace.

5) Check in with your other contacts. Chances are that the admissions department is not the only entity on campus that wants to hear about your senior year. If you have been in touch with other people on campus — maybe a coach, professor, mentor or department recruiter — make sure to keep them up-to-date on your application status. Make sure you also keep the college counselor at your high school in the loop on what you are doing.

5) Write a letter. If you applied early action or decision, then obviously that school is one of your top choices. But it doesn’t hurt to reiterate that sentiment in a formal letter. At Johns Hopkins University, Daniel G. Creasy typed up six tips for deferred students, which included writing a letter: “Though not something all deferred applicants need to do or even should do, some of you may consider writing a personal letter to the Admissions Committee stressing your interest in Hopkins and why you feel you are an appropriate candidate for admissions. Consider this a cover letter to your overall application.”

At the University of Virginia, Dean of Admission Greg Roberts advised against submitting any information beyond midyear grades: “Some students ask if they should notify us that UVA is their first choice. While we’re flattered to see that level of interest, we normally don’t take this into account when making admission decisions.” (This is the first year U-Va. has offered nonbinding early action, although years ago it offered binding early decision. The university received 11,753 early applications and accepted 3,187 students.)

7) Let the process play out. Once your application is complete, then you just have to wait. In the meantime, enjoy your senior year and keep your grades up.

Do you have additional advice for deferred students? Or do you disagree with my advice? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

For even more higher education news, follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and check out these recent articles:

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By  |  02:52 PM ET, 02/01/2012

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